The Imiolek Family

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The story of the Imiołek family

“My dear uncle! I was looking for you! Come on home, mum’s waiting with dinner!” cried ten year old Marianna, forcing her way through the line of German soldiers, and reaching Leon Weinstein, who was standing among the men rounded up for transport. Leon picked her up and marched out of the line. “Back home he was kissing me and crying with joy. He said … he would never forget, especially Marianna, ‘She saved my life at the last moment.’” – remembers Marianna Gajowniczek.

From August 1943, Marianna’s parents – the Imiołek family hid two Jews: Leon and his sister-in-law Bronisława Szafran. They prepared two hiding places in the closet and under the coal, in their Saska Kępa (Warsaw district) basement apartment. Czesława Imiołek, Marianna’s mother, provided for the family and the Jews in hiding by doing laundry and cleaning houses. Antoni Imiołek had tuberculosis and worked only occasionally. Marianna helped her mother.

“I remember one search at night. … Mother woke me up and opened the staircase door. Leon already got away, father hid him in the cellar hideout, and then he and Bronisława and others escaped to the garden through the back door. … I remember I went first, mum would always have me walk in front. Mum behind me. And behind her the Gestapo, the Nazis ... When I got to the cellar, I stood in front of the hideout.”

Once Marianna’s schoolmate, looked through the window and noticed a male figure. “Uncle” Leon quickly hid in the closet and Marianna asked the girl in and showed her that there was no one inside.

“I had been taught that it didn’t matter who, but if someone is in a spot, you are to... to lend him a helping hand.”

Leon and Bronisława stayed in their hiding place until the end of the war.

Bibliography

  • Strączek Ignacy, Interview with Marianna Gajowniczek, 26.03.2009
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009